Unusually warm temperatures greeted the players of Wetherby 2 and Boston Spa last night in the Kendall’s Jewellers Winter League although the occasional drizzle and high winds ensured conditions were testing. The hosts had opened their campaign with victory over Tadcaster but fielded a different quartet here as they faced one of the title contenders. Helen Robinson and Marc Bickers were at seed one after enjoying a good summer in the mixed where they helped Wetherby to the HDTL Division two championship whilst Mike Park made a welcome return to the Winter league and was joined by long standing member Judith Crossley who was relishing this step up in class.
Boston arrived with captain Kate Gilman joined by her regular mixed partner Richard Whaley whilst long standing supporter of the Winter League Pete Smith was paired with another regular in Dominique Morrisey. Boston had also recorded an opening day success over Knaresborough so tonight’s winner would go clear at the top.
Marc and Helen took on Richard and Kate on court one in this eagerly awaited clash. Richard needs no introduction as captain of the Wetherby men’s first team and his ultra-consistent game, which involves power and spin, would prove difficult to combat throughout the evening. Kate is a more than useful partner and she produced some excellent baseline returns as the visitors made a good start. Marc is a strong server whilst Helen has a delicious backhand but Wetherby were always playing catch up here. However it was close and Boston just edged a keen contest 5-7.
On court two Mike and Judith looked content and quickly began stringing some promising tennis together. It was tough as Pete Smith has a bag full of tricks and is extremely difficult to read whilst Dominique is a willing runner and a keen competitor. Mike used his strong serve and excellent net play to good effect whilst Judith was very consistent and slowed the pace enough to disrupt her opponents. Once again little between the pairs and an enjoyable rubber went the way of Boston 5-7 meaning all to play for at 10-14 after the opener.
The men’s rubber promised to be tight as Mike and Marc took on Richard and Pete. Whaley was proving the star attraction however with a series of amazing shots and his ability to keep opponents guessing would prove the difference. Marc Bickers produced an incredible service game that pinned the Boston duo to the back fence as Wetherby remained competitive but the highlight for him was a spectacular backhand winner down the middle hit with venom that would have certainly impressed coach Steve Plant!. Pete Smith continued to churn out the winners and despite the best efforts of Mike it was Boston who ran out cosy 4-8 victors.
On court one the ladies were having some long and exciting rallies with the quartet all enjoying moments of magic. Wetherby knew his would be hard to combat a strong Boston duo and despite trailing early gave a backs to the wall comeback to ensure Spa would have to work hard for success. Once again a 4-8 win for Boston now meant they had the winning post firmly in sight as they stretched their advantage to 18-30.
Mike and Judith began against Richard and Kate knowing their task would be difficult but playing with smiles they certainly enjoyed the challenge. Mike was covering every inch of the court and with dogged determination Judith was the proverbial wall at the baseline returning anything the visitors could throw at her. Ultimately Richard and Kate proved too strong with a very professional performance as they recorded a 4-8 success after another entertaining rubber.
Marc and Helen looked determined to ensure Wetherby took one rubber and they looked impressive against Pete and Dominique. However no surprise it was too close to call and in another high quality affair it went down to the wire. However Wetherby were able to celebrate a 7-5 success which left the final score as Wetherby 29 Boston 43.
Once more an enjoyable evening of tennis and thanks to all the players on show. Boston move top of the early table on four points and will have high hopes of been amongst the title contenders this season. They take on Rufforth 1 next in early November and that looks a mouth watering fixture against a team rarely out of the top two in recent seasons.
An impressive performance from Richard Whaley, Kate Gilman, Dominique Morrisey and Pete Smith who guided Boston to victory.
A big thanks to Marc Bickers, Helen Robinson, Judith Crossley and Mike Park for ensuring a competitive and enjoyable evening of tennis.